The Reasons Behind the Decline of the Mughal Empire Essays

2736 Words Nov 26th, 2008 11 Pages
The Mughal Empire was the first large empire in India since the Gupta Empire (nearly a millennium years of difference); it was made up of many ethnicities, a variety of geographic localities, and hundreds of nobles and their principalities. At its largest extent, this empire contained over 140 million inhabitants, as well as encompassing 3.5 million square kilometers. However, as all empires do, the Mughal Empire faced many difficulties, and by the turn of the 19th century, had weakened significantly. The first leader of the Mughal Empire in India was Babur, who reigned from 1527-1530. His original territory was in Afghanistan, but had aspirations to move into the weakened Indian subcontinent. The clincher for this move was when a noble …show more content…
More directly, the Emperor guaranteed the loyalty of the nobility with direct payments that were also commensurate with a noble’s military obligations. Thus, the Mughals spent over 82 percent of the total government revenue upon subsidies to over 1,823 mansabdaris (who held their position, or mansab, in accordance to the imperial ranking system), as well as to over 576 autonomous princes. And due to the manpower provided by the nobility; the Mughals were able to field one of the largest armies in the world. By the late 17th century however, the imperial system of rank and title distribution had broken down, and as a consequence, the families, clans and dynasties that governed the empire engaged in incessant conflict over control of the imperial provinces. Without a strong imperial government to suppress these provincial battles, and without a commonly agreed upon method of distributing imperial title and favor, the conflict between the mansabdaris and nobility eventually forced the imperial government into a series of provincial wars that were ultimately self-destructive. The structural approaches outlined above are useful at the systemic level, but they are limited because they ignore human agency. In other words, structural theories ignore critical decisions made by particular Emperors that

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